FIFA president Gianni Infantino on Sunday said that it is a “dark day” for football following the death of at least 174 people and injury to 180 others in a stampede at a football match in Indonesia’s Malang in East Java province.
The tragic incident, which is one of the world’s worst stadium disasters, took place after local team Arema FC lost 2-3 to bitter rivals Persebaya Surabaya in East Java.
According to a BBC report, the crush took place after police tear-gassed supporters who invaded the pitch late on Saturday evening.
“The football world is in a state of shock following the tragic incidents that have taken place in Indonesia. This is a dark day for all involved in football and a tragedy beyond comprehension” Infantino said.
As panic spread in Kanjuruhan Stadium in Malang, thousands surged towards the exits, where many suffocated. Notably, tear gas is banned at football stadiums by the international governing body FIFA.
“I extend my deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims who lost their lives following this tragic incident,” Infantino further said.
“Together with FIFA and the global football community, all our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, those who have been injured, together with the people of the Republic of Indonesia, the Asian Football Confederation, the Indonesian Football Association, and the Indonesian Football League, at this difficult time,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian football association (PSSI) said it had launched an investigation, adding that the incident had “tarnished the face of Indonesian football”.
Violence at football matches is not new in Indonesia, and Arema FC and Persebaya Surabaya are long-time rivals.
Persebaya Surabaya fans were banned from buying tickets for the game because of fears of clashes. But Chief Security Minister Mahfud MD posted on Instagram that 42,000 tickets had been sold for the match at the Kanjuruhan stadium.
President Widodo called for this to be the “last soccer tragedy in the nation” after ordering that all Liga 1 games should be paused pending an investigation.
The stampede is the latest in a long line of disasters at stadiums. In 1964, a total of 320 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured during a stampede at a Peru-Argentina Olympic qualifier in Lima.
In 1985, 39 people died and 600 were hurt at the Heysel stadium in Brussels, Belgium, when fans were crushed against a wall that then collapsed during the European Cup final between Liverpool (England) and Juventus (Italy).
In the UK, a crush developed at the Hillsborough stadium in Sheffield, resulting in the deaths of 97 Liverpool fans attending the club’s FA Cup semi-final against Nottingham Forest.